4 West Chester murders, Court TV spotlight lead biggest area crime news of 2019

Child death cases, a quadruple homicide and a visit to Warren County by Court TV for a highly anticipated murder case were part of a busy year of crime and courts coverage in the Journal-News.

Here’s a look at some of the biggest stories of the year:

4 killed in West Chester apartment, family member charged

Gurpreet Singh was arrested in August for the shooing death of his wife and three other family members in West Chester Twp. in April.

Singh, 37, is charged with four counts of aggravated murder stemming from the April 28 incident. With specifications of using a firearm and killing two or more persons, Singh faces the death penalty if convicted.

MORE: Case against quadruple homicide suspect must start over

Singh is accused of killing his wife, Shalinderjit Kaur, 39; his in-laws, Hakikat Singh Pannag, 59, and Parmjit Kaur, 62; and his aunt by marriage, Amarjit Kaur, 58, at their apartment on April 28. All died of gunshot wounds.

Singh called 911 on the night of the murders, and he was questioned by police but not arrested. The investigation continued until Singh was arrested while in Connecticut attending a family wedding in early July.

A grand jury indicted Singh on Aug. 2.

A September trial date has been set, but last week the case hit a snag. Butler County Common Pleas Judge Greg Howard ordered Singh’s case start over with arraignment of the indictment after his defense team questioned if the native of India understood court proceeds because English is not his native language.

Brooke Skylar Richardson trial takes national stage

After year of twists and turns, the case of a Carlisle woman accused of killing her newborn in 2017 and burying her in the backyard finally went to trial in September with a national spotlight.

The Warren County Common Pleas Court trial captured media from throughout the region and the country. Court TV broadcast each moment of the trial live.

MORE: No jail time for Brooke Skylar Richardson

Following a two-week trial with dueling doctors and experts as well as plenty of emotional testimony, but not a word from Richardson, the jury acquitted the now-20-year-old former cheerleader of only one charge — abuse of a corpse. She was acquitted on charges of aggravated murder, involuntary manslaughter, and child endangering, and the Warren County prosecutor said that was most likely because the prosecution couldn’t produce a cause of death of the baby.

Richardson had the baby in secret and buried her in the backyard of her parent’s Carlisle. The defense maintained the baby was stillborn, but the prosecution argued Richardson killed the child that she didn’t want.

Judge Donold Oda II sentenced Richardson to three years of community control. She was free on bond for all but a few days while awaiting trial.

Babysitter convicted in toddler’s death

Lindsay Partin, the Butler County babysitter accused of murder, was convicted on April 12, of that crime, involuntary manslaughter and child endangering for the death of Hannah Wesche, a 3-year-old girl she babysat, on March 8, 2018.

Her trial lasted nearly two weeks in Butler County Common Pleas court. She sentenced on May 9, 2019, to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 18 years.

Before the sentencing, a family member and friend of Partin’s said they believed she is innocent. Her case has been appealed to the 12th District Court of Appeals.

Partin, 36, was charged after Wesche collapsed at her Shank Road residence on March 8, 2018.

During seven full days of testimony, the jury heard Partin’s confession to slapping and hitting the toddler in the days leading up to March 8, then shaking her on that day. However, Partin later said in testimony that she felt pressured to make those admissions to investigators.

Partin also said the 3-year-old had a couple of falls that caused the bruising observed by the doctors, coroner and EMTs.

Dueling doctors gave testimony about how long the child could have been walking, talking and acting normally after the fatal head injury. Doctors who treated and observed Hannah at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital said she would not have been able to function within seconds or minutes.

Man convicted of stalking, killing West Chester woman

Michael Strouse, of Liberty Twp., pleaded guilty in March to murder, menacing by stalking and gross abuse of a corpse.

Strouse, 29, of Bluffs Drive, was indicted in September 2018 for aggravated murder, murder, three counts of tampering with evidence, menacing by stalking, petty theft, abuse of a corpse and gross abuse of a corpse in the death of Ellen “Ellie” Weik.

Strouse admitted to placing a plastic wrap over the head of Ellen “Ellie” Weik, killing her, wrapping her in a blanket and placing her body in a field across from his house.

MORE: Maximum sentence for man who killed West Chester woman

Michael Strouse was sentenced on April 17, 2019, to the maximum of 15 years to life in prison for the murder Weik, plus an additional 2 1/2 years in prison on other charges.

He will not be eligible for parole for 17 1/2 years.

Mother accused of smothering infant daughter

Saralin Walden, of Hamilton, was indicted on March 6 by a Butler County grand jury for involuntary manslaughter, a first-degree felony, and child endangering, a third-degree felony, in the October 2018 death of her infant daughter.

She was found competent to stand trial related to the death of her 3-month-old daughter, Rae’Anna. The child was injured while in Walden’s care on Oct. 23, 2018, and was pronounced dead five days later at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, according to prosecutors.

In October, Walden pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter for the death of her daughter. She was sentenced to five years in prison by Butler County Common Pleas Judge Charles Pater.

MORE: Hamilton woman goes to prision for infant daughter’s death

Prosecutors said the 25-year-old rolled over on her daughter while she was sleeping smothering her. Walden’s drug usage was also involved in the crime, they said.

Notable Middletown homicide investigated with no indictment

On the night of Dec. 14, 2018, Benny Barefield, a father of 10, was shot and killed in his car as he talked on the phone outside his Middletown home.

Barefield’s red Buick Lucerne moved forward and struck a stop sign at the corner of Yankee Road and Ninth Avenue just a couple blocks from his house.

More than a year later, no one is charged with Barefield’s homicide, but police say that doesn’t mean it isn’t solved.

Middletown police arrested two men and one teen and identified another man for the the shooting death just days after it happened. All were charged with aggravated murder or complicity to aggravated murder as well as other felonies, including participating in a criminal gang.

When the case was presented to a Butler County grand jury two months later, no charges were returned, and the suspects were freed. Middletown police say the ongoing investigation points to the same suspects.

The case remains open and actively investigated, according to Middletown police.

MORE: No arrests a year after Middletown man’s fatal shooting

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